Review Category : National News

New Baltimore PD Use of Force Policy Emphasizes ‘Sanctity of Life’

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — The Baltimore Police Department’s updated use of force policy, which emphasizes the “sanctity of life” and the need to “de-escalate,” goes into effect Friday — the first update in more than a decade and coming in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray.

This is the first time the BPD’s use of force policy has been updated since 2003, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced at a press conference on Wednesday. The updated use of force policy announcement comes during the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the department’s patterns and practices.

“Some of the key points in this use of force policy include the emphasis on the sanctity of life, that’s actually in the policy now, and the need to de-escalate when possible,” said Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at Wednesday’s press conference.

Other updates include clearer terminology and definitions, and the requirement that officers provide, “aid, including EMS or immediate hospital transport, to injured persons and those claiming to be injured,” Davis announced.

Officers are also now required to intercede and notify a supervisor if they see fellow police officers using excessive force.

Last fall Gray, 25, died in Baltimore police custody, sparking nationwide outrage and allegations of police brutality, as well as six officers being charged. Gray had allegedly asked to go to the hospital before he passed away but police officers ignored his requests.

Three of the officers have been acquitted, including one who was charged with murder.

Rawlings-Blake emphasized that the updated police policy does not in any way neglect officer safety.

“Officer safety is paramount and I’ve been assured that the safety of our officer’s is not at risk with the changes that have been made to the use of force policy, in fact our officers are in a better position as a result of these changes,” Rawlings-Blake said at the press conference.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis reiterated the Mayor’s sentiments, adding “I’ve consistently said that we are not doing this to our police officers we are doing this for our police officers.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Boy, 8, Medevaced from Royal Carribbean Ship After Pool Accident

Jacob Triplett(NEW YORK) — Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas Cruise ship was forced to turn around off the coast of New York Thursday after a child had an accident in a pool and required medical help, according to the cruise line.

The 8-year-old boy was found Thursday afternoon. The Coast Guard said it was notified just before 7 p.m.
The FDNY met the ship — which had left from Bayonne, NJ, earlier in the day — upon its return. The child was medevaced to Staten Island University Hospital North, according to the Coast Guard. Early Friday morning, the Coast Guard had confirmed the ship returned out to sea after the child was evacuated.

The child’s condition was unknown, the Coast Guard said.

The child’s condition was unknown, the Coast Guard said.

The ship left Bayonne, NJ, Thursday afternoon and was set to embark on a 9-day cruise to Bermuda and the Caribbean.

According to Royal Caribbean, the boy was treated by the ship’s medical team “after an accident in one of the ship’s swimming pools, but required additional medical attention.”

“The ship altered its course and sailed back towards Bayonne, New Jersey for a medical evacuation. Royal Caribbean’s Care Team is providing support to the guest’s family,” Royal Caribbean added in its statement.

The incident comes just months after the ship was forced to turn around in February when it encountered hurricane-force winds and 40-foot waves off the coast of the Carolinas.

That same month the ship turned around again to avoid a major storm.

This is a developing story. Please check back in for updates.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Family of Montana Man Killed in Grizzly Bear Attack Speaks Out

Courtesy Treat Family(WEST GLACIER, Mont.) — The family of a 38-year-old Montana man who was fatally attacked by a grizzly bear while mountain biking has spoken out, saying the Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer “put his life on the line every day.”

Brad Treat, 38, was mountain biking with a friend on a trail in West Glacier just after 2 p.m. Wednesday when the grizzly attacked, pulling him off his bike. The pair likely surprised the bear as they rode by, said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

Treat’s companion was able to exit the area and summon help and was not injured in the attack, Curry said.

Treat’s sister-in-law, Melissa Treat, told ABC News he was “amazing man, an all around stand up guy, a devoted husband, amazing brother, loving son and loyal friend.”

“He would go above and beyond to help those in need,” Melissa said.

Melissa said her brother-in-law loved the outdoors and enjoyed hiking, kayaking, running and biking.

“It was hard to find him indoors,” she said. “He loved being outside and enjoying nature.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Thursday, “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Officer Brad Treat…We are grateful for Officer Treat’s selfless service and share in mourning a life that was taken too soon.”

The incident is under investigation by the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, the U.S. Forest Service and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. The area has been closed by the Forest Service for public safety pending the completion of the investigation, Curry said.

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Adnan Syed of ‘Serial’ Granted New Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Adnan Syed, a convicted killer who gained international fame from the podcast “Serial,” is getting a new trial after spending 17 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit.

A retired Baltimore City Circuit Court judge issued his ruling Thursday after reviewing new evidence, including the testimony from an alibi witness that was presented during a second post-conviction hearing earlier this year. Syed was convicted of killing his former high school classmate Hae Min Lee. Lee was found strangled in Leakin Park in 1999. The pair had dated.

During a press conference Thursday, Syed’s attorney Justin Brown said his next goal is to get Syed out of prison.

“The conviction is vacated, so the conviction is erased, it’s gone. As of this day he’s not convicted anymore,” Brown said. “One of the first things we’re going to be looking at is whether we can get him out on bail,” but that it’s up to the state whether they are going to appeal the judge’s ruling or go forward with a new trial.

Late Thursday evening, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General released a statement, confirming they will continue to seek justice in the murder of Lee.

“The court ruled in the State’s favor on a number of issues, but there does appear to be at least one ground that will need to be resolved by the appellate courts The State’s responsibility remains to pursue justice, and to defend what it believes is a valid conviction,” the statement said.

Syed’s lawyers, Brown and Christopher Nieto, called seven witness during the hearing earlier this year. They argued for a new trial for Syed on two points: Asia McClain Chapman, an alibi witness who said she saw Syed at the Woodlawn Public Library at the same time the state says he killed Lee was never sought out for her testimony in Syed’s 2000 trial, and cellphone location data that was deemed “unreliable” by AT&T that was used against him during his trial, pinpointing him near the wooded area where Lee was buried.

Both of these issues, Syed’s lawyers argued, are due to “failures” of Syed’s 2000 trial lawyer Cristina Gutierrez.

Judge Martin Welch in his issued opinion wrote that he found Syed’s trial attorney “rendered ineffective assistance when she failed to cross-examine the state’s expert regarding the reliability of cell tower location evidence,” according to court documents obtained by ABC News. But on the issue of failing to contact McClain, the judge found that Syed’s lawyer’s performance “fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgement,” but that this error did not prejudice Syed’s defense.

Welch wrote that “trial counsel’s failure to investigate McClain’s alibi did not prejudice the defense because the crux of the State’s case did not rest on the time of the murder,” adding later, “The potential alibi witness, however, would not have undermined the crux of the State’s case: that Petitioner buried the victim’s body in Leakin Park at approximately 7 p.m. on January 13, 1999,” the documents read.

Chapman tweeted on Thursday, “Wow…I’m speechless. New Baby, New Trial.” Chapman, who was pregnant when she testified during the post-conviction relief hearing in February of this year, gave birth Wednesday.

Brown celebrated the judge’s decision Thursday afternoon, saying “I’m feeling pretty confident right now. This was the biggest hurdle. It’s really hard to get a new trial.”

When asked why Gutierrez was ineffective during cross examination of the cell evidence, Brown said: “She is deceased right now. We can’t ask her. There’s no explanation for not cross-examining the cell tower expert.”

Syed’s best friend, 35-year-old Saad Chaudry, said he’s “feeling good” about the judge’s decision.

“It’s amazing. And I mean the timing is just awesome that it’s this month during the month of Ramadan, so many prayers from all over the world,” the businessman said.

Chaudry added that “hope has been restored” and that he thinks his friend is “appreciative” of Thursday’s outcome, calling it “balanced and fair.”

In the state’s closing arguments earlier this year, Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiruvendran Vignarajah called Gutierrez a “meticulous” and “tenacious” lawyer, saying she did everything she could do to “vigorously advocate” for Syed, “pouring every ounce of her great talent” into defending him.

“To have her name smeared as it is, as a vehicle to make this case … it is not fair,” Vignarajah said.

The state called only two witnesses of its own to testify against Syed: a former Woodlawn Public Library security guard, and FBI Special Agent Chad Fitzgerald, who corroborated the testimony of a cellphone expert who placed Syed at the scene of the burial.

The security guard was called to verify that there were not security cameras in the library. However during testimony he said “it’s possible” there were.

Perhaps the most notable part of the hearing was when Brown called McClain (now Campbell) to testify as the alibi witness or “missing piece of the puzzle.”

McClain testified that she was with Syed at the time of the killing, but she says she didn’t call the police initially to divulge her story because of fear.

“I started to call the police and then I chickened out. I think I hung up ’cause I got scared.”

She didn’t make herself known to Gutierrez, but she wrote letters to Syed. Syed told Gutierrez, but she didn’t pursue the angle.

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Anthem of the Seas Cruise Ship Forced to Turn Back After Pool Accident

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Anthem of the Seas Cruise ship was forced to turn around off the coast of New York Thursday when a child needed medical help after being found in one of the craft’s pools, according to the cruise line.

The 8-year-old child was found Thursday afternoon and the Coast Guard was notified just before 7 p.m., officials said.

The child’s condition was unknown, the Coast Guard said.

The ship left Bayonne, NJ Thursday afternoon and was set to embark on a 9-day cruise to Bermuda and the Caribbean.

According to Royal Caribbean, the boy was treated by the ship’s medical team “after an accident in one of the ship’s swimming pools, but required additional medical attention.”

“The ship altered its course and sailed back towards Bayonne, New Jersey for a medical evacuation. Royal Caribbean’s Care Team is providing support to the guest’s family,” Royal Caribbean added in its statement.

This is a developing story. Please check back in for updates.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Family of Montana Man Killed in Grizzly Bear Attack Speaks Out

Courtesy Treat Family(WEST GLACIER, Mont.) — The family of a 38-year-old Montana man who was fatally attacked by a grizzly bear while mountain biking has spoken out, saying the Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer “put his life on the line every day.”

Brad Treat, 38, was mountain biking with a friend on a trail in West Glacier just after 2 p.m. Wednesday when the grizzly attacked, pulling him off his bike. The pair likely surprised the bear as they rode by, said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

Treat’s companion was able to exit the area and summon help and was not injured in the attack, Curry said.

Treat’s sister-in-law, Melissa Treat, told ABC News he was “amazing man, an all around stand up guy, a devoted husband, amazing brother, loving son and loyal friend.”

“He would go above and beyond to help those in need,” Melissa said.

Melissa said her brother-in-law loved the outdoors and enjoyed hiking, kayaking, running and biking.

“It was hard to find him indoors,” she said. “He loved being outside and enjoying nature.”

The incident is under investigation by the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, the U.S. Forest Service and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. The area has been closed by the Forest Service for public safety pending the completion of the investigation, Curry said.

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Researchers Catch an 11-Foot, 7-Inch Tiger Shark While Fishing in North Carolina

Laura Harrell/Facebook(NEW YORK) — Researchers reeled in an 11-foot, 7-inch tiger shark while fishing at a beach in North Carolina Wednesday night.

Laura Harrell, who posted the encounter between the group of researchers and the tiger shark on her Facebook page, told ABC News that they released the shark back into the ocean after taking a few pictures and tagging it.

Her photos and videos of the tiger shark have already garnered more than 14,000 shares on Facebook.

The incident took place in North Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Harrell, a local resident, said this is not very common.

“Last year I saw a guy fishing off the shore and he caught a 6-foot shark, which I thought was big,” she said, adding that she has never seen one this big.

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Travel Security Heightened for 4th of July

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A day before millions of travelers are expected to hit the road, rails or sky for the long Independence Day weekend, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says Americans should expect to see more security in public places during their holiday.

“The American public should expect to see, this July 4th weekend, an enhanced security presence at airports, train stations and other transit centers across the country by TSA and state and local law enforcement as well as security personnel generally,” he said at a Senate Judiciary Hearing Thursday morning.

In addition to federal efforts, several airports throughout the country have said they are beefing up security in the wake of the attack in Istanbul.

The cities of Miami, Indianapolis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York have all said they are adding extra security for the weekend.

Los Angeles International Airport says it is expecting a record number of travelers and that they have more K-9 Units, police personnel and traffic enforcement units in place.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told ABC News it has added high visibility patrols equipped with tactical weapons and equipment at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports.

The Transportation Security Administration has VIPR teams deploying to airports across the country.

The VIPRS — a team of behavior detection offers, explosive experts, and air marshals — were created partly in response to a series of high-profile foreign train attacks in the early 2000s. They often work special events that need extra security to deter acts of terrorism.

Airports across the country are already adding security to transit centers as Turkey is reeling from an attack that killed 43 people at the nation’s largest airport.

Hopper, an airfare prediction app, is predicting Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Chicago and New York to be the most popular destinations for holiday travelers this Independence Day.

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Fireworks Don’t Fly with the TSA this July 4

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Fireworks won’t fly this Fourth of July, or any other day for that matter. To avoid having them confiscated, leave the fireworks at home, the Transportation Security Administration says.

“Fireworks and firecrackers are explosive and flammable, so in an effort to keep the skies safe, fireworks are prohibited from being transported in both carry-on and checked bags,” the TSA wrote on its blog. “TSA is responsible for enforcing this FAA rule by intercepting these items during screening.”

Aerial repeater fireworks, aerial shell fireworks, firecrackers, flying spinners, chasers, fountains, bottle rockets, ground spinners, parachute fireworks, poppers, snaps, skyrockets, missiles, roman candles, smoke fireworks, snakes, strobes, sparklers, wheels and anything else firework-related is not permitted on a commercial aircraft in checked or carry-on luggage.

Hot dogs, and other solid food items, can travel in your carry-on bags. Liquid food items — like your special BBQ sauce — have to be checked.

Have a question about what flies with the TSA? Check out the agency’s handy “Can I bring my . . .” tool. You can also tweet the TSA your questions @AskTSA 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, weekdays; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekends and holidays.

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